Prayer Beads
The Altar

Prayer beads are held in the hands during the recitation of the sutra and the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  A traditional accessory, prayer beads have 108 beads, which symbolically represent the number of earthly desires that common mortals have and which are purified through one’s Buddhist practice.   

When we use beads during gongyo, after twisting them into a figure eight, the end with the two strands, is placed over the third finger of the left hand.  The end with the three strands, over the third finger of the right.  They lie on the outside of the hands, which are placed together with palms and fingers touching each other.  Although traditional meaning has been assigned to the various parts of the prayer beads, they have no special power and are not an essential part of the Buddhist practice.